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HQ 088355

October 1, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 088355 RFC


TARIFF NO.: 2921.19.50

District Director
U.S. Customs Service
300 South Ferry Street
Terminal Island
San Pedro, CA 90731

RE: Decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 2704-89-003734, on the classification of Taurine

Dear Sir:

This is a decision on application for further review of a protest timely filed on behalf of Taisho Pharmaceutical California, Inc., on November 21, 1989, against your decision in the tariff classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of taurine. The product was entered under entry number 1167953 on March 21, 1989 and under entry number 1168407 on May 3, 1989. Both entries were liquidated on September 15, 1989.


The product is the organic chemical taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid). Its chemical formula is NH2CH2CH2SO3H and Chemical Abstracts Service (C.A.S.) registry number is 107-35-7.


Merchandise imported into the United States is classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The tariff classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the principles set forth in the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs) and, in the absence of special language or context which otherwise requires, by the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation. The GRIs and the Additional U.S. Rules of Interpretation are part of the HTSUSA and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes. See Sections 1204(a) and 1204(c) of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (19 U.S.C. 1204(a) and 1204(c)).

GRI 1 requires that classification be determined first according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule (i.e., (1) merchandise is to be classified under the 4-digit heading that most specifically describes the merchandise; (2) only 4-digit headings are comparable; and (3) merchandise must first satisfy the provisions of a 4-digit heading before consideration is given to classification under a subheading within this 4-digit heading) and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, then according to the other GRIs.

GRI 6 prescribes that, for legal purposes, GRIs 1 to 5 shall govern, mutatis mutandis, classification at subheading levels within the same heading. Therefore, merchandise is to be classified at equal subheading levels (i.e., at the same digit level) within the same 4-digit heading under the subheading that most specifically describes or identifies the merchandise.

The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (hereinafter "Harmonized System") represent the official interpretation of the Customs Cooperation Council on the scope of each heading. See H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 100-576, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. 549 (1988); 23 Customs Bulletin No. 36, 3 (T.D. 89- 90, September 6, 1989), 59 F.R. 35127 (August 23, 1989). Although not binding on the contracting parties to the Harmonized System Convention or considered to be dispositive in the interpretation of the Harmonized System, the Explanatory Notes should be consulted on the proper scope of the Harmonized System. Id.

A review of the chapters in the schedule reveals that the instant product may be classified in chapter 29 because this chapter covers articles similar to taurine (i.e., "organic chemicals"). Within this chapter, there are two competing headings wherein the product may be classified: 2921 and 2922. Heading 2922, the latter of the two competing headings, provides for "oxygen-function amino-compounds." Significant to this heading is note 4 to chapter 29. This note states, in part, that:

For purposes of headings 2911, 2912, 2914, 2918 and 2922, "oxygen-function" is to be restricted to the functions (the characteristic organic oxygen-containing groups) referred to in headings 2905 to 2920.

See Note 4 to chapter 29 of the HTSUSA.

It is should be note that chapter notes are part of the legal text of the HTSUSA and are to be considered statutory provisions of law for all purposes. See Sections 1204(a) and 1204(c) of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (19 U.S.C. 1204(a) and

In addition to the above, guidance concerning the coverage of heading 2922 can be found in the Explanatory Notes thereto:

The term "oxygen-function amino-compounds" means amino- compounds which contain also one or more of the oxygen functions referred to in previous sub-Chapters (alcohol, ether, phenol, aldehyde, ketone, etc., functions). This heading therefore covers amino-compounds which are substitution derivatives of amines containing oxygen functions of headings 29.05 to 29.20, and salts thereof.

See Explanatory Notes to heading 2922 to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

In the instant case, taurine is an organic compound having an "NH2" functional group, and thus may be described as an amino compound. The other functional group present, however, in taurine is "SO3H" which is commonly referred to as a "sulfonic-acid functional group." This latter group is not chemically similar to any of the above-mentioned oxygen-function groups (as described either in note 4 to chapter 29 or in the Explanatory Notes to heading 2922). Moreover, the sulfonic-acid functional group is not referred to in the technical literature as an oxygen-function group. Therefore, the sulfonic-acid functional group may not be considered to be an oxygen-function group for purposes of classification in heading 2922. Accordingly, taurine is not properly classified under heading 2922.

The alternative heading in which taurine may be classified is heading 2921. This heading provides for "amine-function compounds." Guidance concerning the coverage of this heading may be found in the Explanatory Notes thereto. Identified in those notes as being properly classified under heading 2921 are, among other things, "acyclic monoamines and their derivatives."

In the instant case, a review of taurine's chemical structure shows it to contain one amino (NH2) group. Taurine, then, may be described as a monoamine. Moreover, taurine has an acyclic- organic chemical-compound structure. Therefore, it is a derivative (sulfonic-acid type) of an acyclic monoamine. In view thereof, taurine may be described as an "amine-function compound" for purposes of classification under heading 2921. Accordingly, taurine is properly classified under heading 2921 as an "amine- function compound."


The above-described product is properly classified under subheading 2921.19.50, HTSUSA, which provides for amine-function compounds, acyclic monoamines and their trimethylamine and their salts thereof, other, other. The general rate of duty for the year is 7.9 percent ad valorem.

In light of the above, the protest should be denied in full. A copy of this decision should be furnished to the protestant with the Form 19 notice of action.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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